In addition to setting the Internet ablaze with the sexiest pictures of the young year and introducing GQ correspondent Amy Wallace to “Business Beyoncé” for her February cover story, Bey’ also took a little time to talk about the followup to her 2011 album, “4.”
The R&B superstar revealed that she’s about 50 songs deep into her fifth as-yet-untitled album — but there’s more. And we have a reaction to who’s she’s working with, what inspiring it, and her songwriting process.
On her collaborators: “I’ve been working with Pharrell and Timbaland and Justin Timberlake and Dream. We all started in the ’90s, when R&B was the most important genre, and we all kind of want that back: the feeling that music gave us.”
Billboard’s thoughts – Wonderful news. Each of those four men has the recipe for a thoughtful hit record in their $1,000 designer denim pockets, and she’s worked with three of the four already. The-Dream wrote “Single Ladies.” Pharrell produced “Green Light” and “Kitty Kat” from her “B’Day” album. And she appeared as a guest on Timberlake “Until the End of Time” remix.
But we’ve heard the saying before: too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup. That shouldn’t be something Beyoncé fans should worry too much about, though. She’s always worked with a variety of producers on her project, and has always come through with a solid, cohesive album.
As for ’90s R&B being the wave they’re surfing on, yes! Let’s assume she’s thinking more Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, and SWV.
On songwriting: “I used to start with lyrics and then I’d find tracks — often it was something I had in my head, and it just so happened to go with the melody. Now I write with other writers. It starts with the title or the concept of what I’m trying to say, and then I’ll go into the booth and sing my idea. Then we work together to layer on.”
Hey, whatever works for her is okay with us — especially since it makes the most sense. Singing to a track as opposed to repurposing pre-written lyrics on an unheard track should speed up the recording process.
On the album’s influences: “Mostly R&B. I always have my Prince and rock/soul influences. There’s a bit of D’Angelo, some 60s doo-wop. And Aretha and Diana Ross.”
Usually when artists say they’re aspiring for the greatness of legends, the knee-jerk reaction from critics is something like, “Oh, no she didn’t!” But Bey’ has the talent and the resources to say such things. She’s got that Aretha soul (plus a voice that can blow houses down), Diana’s sultriness, Prince’s raw sex appeal, and she’s more than capable of drumming up some ’60s-era harmonies with her vocals.
On her inspirations: “Even the silliest little thing that you hear on the radio, it comes from something deeper. ‘Bootylicious’ was funny, but it came from people saying that I had gained weight and me being like, ‘I’m a southern woman, and this is how southern women are.’ My motivation is always to express something or to heal from something or to laugh and rejoice about something.”
We wonder what she’ll pull out of the ether this go ’round. Between the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy and being happily married to poppa Jay-Z, she’s got plenty to be beaming about. She’s obviously already lost that pregnancy weight. But what is the something she wants “to heal from”? We’ll have to wait and see.